It’s not normally a signal for wild celebration when a political party caucus loses on the largest and most significant piece of legislation in a given year. But it’s definitely party-time for the House GOP, according to a report from the House GOP retreat at the Homestead resort by Politico’s Patrick O’Conner. These Republicans are beside themselves with joy that they managed to engineer a unanimous vote against the economic stimulus package.
“Look at these faces,” said California Rep. Kevin O. McCarthy, pointing to a roomful of Republicans and their families during a dinner in one of the resort’s expansive ballrooms. “They’re all smiling. You’d think these people are still in the majority.”
Aside from the fact that just being employed is a pretty nice thing these days, the GOP solons appear to be thoroughly enjoying the liberty to return to the pre-1994 Republican modus operandi of pure, truculent obstruction. National Republican Congressional Committeee chairman Pete Sessions told the assembled members of Congress “that they need to get over the idea that they’re participating in legislation and ought to start thinking of themselves as ‘an insurgency’ instead.” And right on cue, the big guest speaker was Newt Gingrich, who rose to power by inculcating the ethos of juvenile delinquency into his torpid GOP colleagues, before becoming a national pariah once he had some responsibility for governing.
Another star at the retreat was newly elected RNC chairman Michael Steele, who “offered a partisan rallying call in praise of the vote against the stimulus”:
“I thought it was very important to send a signal, and you sent it loudly, very clearly, that this party, the leadership of this caucus, would stand first and foremost with the American people. You made it very clear that in order to grow through this recession that you not redistribute the wealth of the people of this nation.”
His remarks were in line with the core message most speakers offered over the weekend: The party should return to a back-to-basics fiscal conservatism.
“I know all of you are pumped about the vote the other day,” [House GOP Whip Eric] Cantor told lawmakers Friday night, eliciting loud cheers. “We’ll have more to come.”
In another article at Politico, Ann Schroeder Mullins offered this matched pair of recent missives from the House Republican campaign committee:
“This is an opportunity for us to promote bold, positive and substantive reforms rooted in our core principles; and opportunity to be more than the party of ‘no.’”— NRCC e-mail from John A. Boehner, Jan 20
And: “Last night Nancy Pelosi asked Republicans to join her in maxing out the country’s credit card — Republicans said ‘NO!’”— Pete Sessions in an NRCC e-mail Friday